After almost two years of trial which suffered several adjournments, at a federal high court before Justice Hazeem Oshodi, the federal government has finally closed its case against Justice Ofili Ajumogobia and Godwin Obla (SAN).
At the last adjourned date on September 14,2018, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), Nnaemeka Omewa, informed the court that although the prosecution had intended to call one last witness, after an extensive review of its case and its desire not to “further waste the time of the court”, it had opted to simply close its defence.
Counsel to Obla, 2nd defendant in the matter, Chief I.A. Adedipe, SAN,on his part informed the court that having analyzed the failure of the prosecution to establish a prima facie case against the 2nd Defendant, he would, on behalf of the 2nd Defendant, file a no-case submission within 7 days.
Counsel to the 1st Defendant, (Ajumogobia) Mobolaji Kuti, also indicated the 1st Defendant’s intention to file a no-case submission within 14 days.
The case has been adjourned to 2nd of November 2018.
The trials of the defendants commenced with the arraignment of both defendants on a 30-count charge on 28th November 2016.
It would be recalled that in the period between the arraignment and the closure of the prosecution’s case, the prosecution had applied to the court for adjournment on at least 5 occasions, ostensibly to call more witnesses.
On some occasions, the prosecution’s witnesses did not appear in court on the dates fixed by the court.
The Commission had accused the 2nd Defendant of impropriety in the prosecution of a former DG of NIMASA, Raymond Omatseye.
Mr. Omatseye was convicted for breaching the Public Procurement Act (the first conviction under that law) but was subsequently acquitted by the Court of Appeal.
The EFCC has since filed an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case.
Meanwhile, Obla SAN had in 2017 instituted an action against the EFCC for recovery of his professional fees amounting to over N685 million for years of unpaid services and expenses incurred on behalf of the Commission.
This action is currently before Justice Valentine Ashi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
In the suit, Obla’s claims include the payment of his outstanding professional fees for the prosecution of various high-profile criminal cases on behalf of the EFCC (including the case of FRN v Raymond Omatseye) as well as fees for the recovery of several billions worth of assets forfeited to the FG through his firm.
The suit also seeks the re-imbursement of out-of-pocket expenses incurred by Obla’s firm for the prosecution of EFCC cases, running into several millions of naira.